Tag Archives for " customer retention "

Using Video Testimonials To Win New Business With Adam O’Leary

How powerful are customer video testimonials in helping win new clients?

In today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I'm joined by Adam O'Leary from TrustScout. We talked about both his entrepreneurial journey and also the value of getting video testimonials from existing customers to help you win new customers. 

Adam shares some of his experiences and key learnings as he has grown his agencies, including what he believes every entrepreneur should focus on and how to get rid of all that other stuff that can be just a distraction!

We also talked about video testimonials: how to get video testimonials from your customer, when you should ask your customer and why video testimonials are such a powerful way to quickly build trust and credibility.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[3:38] 

Adam’s journey in the entrepreneurial world

[5:11] 

The importance of testimonials videos in the buyer’s journey

[6:03] 

The difference between written testimonials and video testimonials

[7:19] 

The best time to ask your client for a video testimonial

[8:59] 

Tips on what kind of questions to ask in video testimonials

[10:22] 

How to maximise the use of video testimonials in your marketing

[11:59] 

How to make video testimonials authentic

[13:07] 

How you can use TrustScout software in your agency

[16:23] 

The good and bad of running an agency

[19:29] 

How Adam finds the balance in running two businesses

[22:01] 

The importance of fully automating as much of your business processes as possible

[24:17] 

Tips in running an agency

[27:51] 

Adam O'Leary’s advice to his younger self

Quotations

“ I think what puts people off is they think they have to create highly produced videos. But sometimes the rawer, the more real it looks and therefore people are more likely to believe it.” - Rob Da Costa

“ There are really only two things in your business that you should focus on:  traffic or sales.” - Adam O'Leary

“..try fast and fail fast” - Adam O'Leary

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 Full Episode Transcription

In today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I'm joined by Adam O'Leary from TrustScout. Now we are talking about both his entrepreneurial journey and also the value of getting video testimonials from existing customers to help you win new customers. 

We talk about some of the experiences that he has had as he has grown his agencies and some of those key learnings, including what he believes every entrepreneur should focus on and how to get rid of all that other stuff that can be just a distraction. 

Then we talk about video testimonials and how to get those video testimonials from your customer when you should ask your customer for that testimonial and why video testimonials can be such a powerful way to build trust and credibility really quickly with that prospect. So another action-packed episode and let's get on with today's show.

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob DaCosta. 

Before we jump into the phase episode of the podcast, I want to really quickly tell you about some free value pack training I'm going to be delivering in September. This training is entitled “How to Easily Fill Your Sales Pipeline With High Quality Leads in The Next 90-Days or Less!” Now, this is a 60-minute training where I'll be talking about why referral based clients are actually setting your agency up to fail, the importance of niche in your agency and how to go about teaching that to discover your zone of genius, and how to create compelling marketing messages that instantly build credibility with your target audience. I'll be talking about the importance of building your mailing list and making sure that your agency is aligned across the market, product service and price. 

So this is a real action-packed 60-minute training with some exclusive bonuses, and all you need to do is head over to training.dacosta.co.uk/salespipelinewebinar and you can save your seat. I'll put a link to this in the show notes, but let's get on with today's show. 

So welcome to today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I'm really excited to have with me today, Adam O'Leary, who is the co-founder of the software company TrustScout that helps agencies capture video testimonials. And we're going to talk a little bit more about that later on. He is also the founder of his own agency, UpsideBuilders helping SaaS companies convert more leads and it was interesting when I was preparing for this that I saw that you said that SaaS companies typically only convert 5% of their leads. Adams companies helping convert more of that 95% that are, I guess, just being left by the wayside. 

So thanks so much for joining us today, and is there anything else you wanted to add to my garbled introduction? No, that's perfect. I'm really excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me on. Fantastic. 

So today we're going to talk about two areas. I was really interested to explore Adams Journey as an entrepreneur and talk about what that road map has looked like. And some of the kind of tips that you can share with our listeners and some of the good, bad and ugly of how you have grown over the years. We're also going to spend some time talking about how important it is to get really good video testimonials for you to help you win and convert more clients. So, why don't you just kick off by telling us a bit about your journey in the entrepreneurial world? 

Yeah, sure thing. So I run an agency for multiple years. I was going ahead and working with different types of software clients and working even with local businesses as well, really, Just trying to go out and figure out where my niche was in the world. And the more that we started working with different clients, we started to realise that as we were writing copy for those clients, that a lot of the time that you had to have, some sort of proof to go along with it in order for us to convert more of that traffic. Unfortunately, most of our clients didn't have a lot of proof, or they would have customers coming in, but they would never actually get anybody to say good things about them in public. So once we started kind of understanding that we started diving really deeply into getting video testimonials to improve for our clients right off the bat like the first time that was the first chance that we could. And once we started doing that, we started saying, Okay, is there a way to actually automate this process for our clients?

So we're not manually going out and chasing down each of these video testimonials one by one. Once we went ahead and we made the kind of that that reach into the video world. We created software that allowed us to do it and completely manage the entire process for our clients on autopilots, which was a fun little experience. Fantastic. 

So while we're talking about the video testimonials tell, why do you think that's so important in the kind of like the buyer's journey for agencies when they're looking at growing their customer base?

Yeah, absolutely. For agencies. I mean, it's really mission-critical, because I think the easiest way to put it is there's 10,000 SEO agencies out there. There are 10,000 design studios or agencies and stuff like that. There's 10,000 of every possible agency that's out there. And when potential clients coming to you and looking and saying is this actually a good fit for me. They're going to compare you normally with 10-20 other agencies to try to figure out who is the best, and it's really creating that trust factor right upfront. That's really critical for agencies to grow in scale. 

How do you compare, say, like a written testimonial versus a video testimonial? That's a good question when it comes to writing. I think one thing that we've seen a lot of in the news and stuff like this is, for example, in Amazon, there were tonnes of cases of fake written testimonials. You see people throw stuff up on websites and you look next to it. It looks like a stock image almost of a person. There's really that lack of trust or that lack of understanding when it comes for, written and then with video, it's almost impossible to fake, you know because you're truly seeing the person there you're seeing. If they're being honest, you see where they're at their location. Are they in even a pizza restaurant, for example? You know, like, what's their background like, And that right there is one of the cool parts when it comes to video. 

It's amazing when I see quotes on people's websites that say, You know, you're fantastic, says leading an SEO of a large financial institution. And you think to yourself There's absolutely no value in that whatsoever. And it's worse almost than not having it there at all. 

Tell me what part of the journey in the relationship with a customer would you ask for a video? Because I think sometimes people are too afraid of asking too soon. So when would you advise clients to actually go to their customers and ask for this testimony? Really? That's a great question. I always recommend the first ah-ha moment. So the first moment that somebody has experienced your product or your service is okay for your agency.

So the first time, if you're going out and you're doing Social Media Post, for example, your social media agency, then the first time that you want to ask that person to give you and like a video testimony or any testimony whatsoever is like literally that first time that they see the social media post, and they see the first results. I always recommend to people in your agency or in any business, really, you need to trying to get a customer a quick wind within that first, like literally as fast as you can. So, for an agency, is there a way that you can get an ah-ha moment down to 24 hours? You know, Is there a way to do it so quickly that the person is excited because you're starting off that relationship? That's one of the most likely to give you a good video testimonial or any testimonial because they're the most excited at that moment. Then from there, you're able to keep that relationship and help with scale and grow. 

Yeah, so much good advice. I think a lot of time I see my clients too afraid to ask that early on need to think they need to feel like they need to wait to the end of the project,  and that's often too late. Then, if the clients kind of starting to disengage from the agency and think about the next party, it might be too difficult. 

Tell me about the kind of questions that you should ask when you're doing a video testimonial. Because I guess that's another thing people aren't really sure what to ask. And therefore they avoid doing it. 

Yeah, absolutely. I guess the favourite the best way that I like to explain it is like a hero's journey. So if you can visualise even like, in the US, they have, like, the medical commercials, like for pills and things like that. There's always at the very beginning. There's, like, this sad person who's struggling. And then all of a sudden, they found the magic pill, which is, of course, your service. And then after that, it's happiness, sunshine and rainbows and things like that. I like to follow that pattern when we ask any sort of, questions. So we'll usually start off by, “What is your business about?” For example, like, “Are you a pizza shop? What was the struggle that you're facing initially?” And then bringing them in and then saying “How were you able to find such agency? Was it by referral? Where was it from? How is the experience working with this? And then would you recommend other people working?” 

Brilliant. Good advice that the hero's journey is a great one to use in all the aspects of marketing, isn't it? So okay, so we've done that. We've now got this video testament of this 30 minute, 30 seconds or two minutes. Whatever it is, video testimony, how can we use that? I mean, the obvious places to stick it on your website. But how else could we be using that to help maximise our marketing?

Yeah, my favourite way to use it is to put it into via cells or to create, like, clip montages at the very beginning of something. So even in like the beginning of your via cell or a sales video that you're making for your agency, you can even stitch in at the very beginning, like John is the best. Like this was the best experience that we've ever had. Click that in the beginning, and then you can start that mood off. Right? When that person is watching because now there it's not there. Now, in their mind, they're more engaged because now they're going to see the kind of already have some understanding of how good you do. So there, watch your videos even further and things like this. 

Then also, I love to use it and follow up situations. So, if you're trying to land, say, a $2000 a month deal, the perfect place to stick that in and be able to send it over to a potential client is to follow up with them, send over, say, “Hey, here's all of the happy customers that we've had before.” And that gives you that trust and credibility for that person to make that decision.

Yeah, I'm glad you said that because I have a page with about 12 video testimonials on it, and I always use that page with my prospects and I'm following up some doing exactly that, which is good to know. So I guess one of the other things that put people off doing this is that they worry that the client might not have the equipment or, you know, they don't know how to set it all up. So I guess your software is helping sort of automating some of this process.

Is that is that right? Yeah, absolutely. And one other thing, too. Is that we personally, for me when I see video testimonials, I never liked, I guess one great example like this. Like when speakers are on stage, and they afterwards they go and they pull people aside and like, everybody's in the same situation, the same background. It looks very staged, you know, and one of my favourite things when it comes to video testimonials is that authenticity, people actually being in a different setting, people clearly being at the place that they're giving the review. Seeing all the moving parts in the backgrounds, to me is one of the most important parts. So when somebody actually does pull out their phone, or if they pull out their computer, it gives you that, like, OK, clearly, they didn't script this testimonial out. 

That's such good advice. And I think again that sort of puts people off because they think they have to have this highly produced video. But you're absolutely right. Sometimes the rawer, it looks the more real it looks and therefore people are more likely to believe it.

Just talk us through how they would use your software in this process. So when it comes to TrustScout, redesigned it to be as easy as humanly possible. For any sort of business to go out and collect these video testimonials. So when a user or when a business owner such as yourself, when you go and you use a telescope, what will happen is once you send it over the link to a person or you could put it on a QR code or whatever it is that you want to send it over or Linkedln an email. Once they click on that, it'll prompt up and ask them like it will tell them like, these are the guiding questions that we have. So if you can tell us about this situation, in this situation and then once they start recording, they recorded the video testimonial comes right into the dashboard after they leave their name and their review. And then from there, you access it inside of your dashboard, where you're able to download it and upload it to YouTube or anywhere else that you would need. 

Fantastic. I'm going to go and check this out afterwards then tell a lot of my clients that they should start using it. I think the easier we make this for ourselves and our clients, the more likely we are to do it. And it's such an important part of, like you say, building trust and credibility with your potential clients that it's something we should all be doing. 

So let's just take a few steps back here and talk about your journey as an entrepreneur and how you what you were doing before you start TrustScout, what led you to do that and what your aspirations are sort of moving into the future. Lots of questions in one there. 

Absolutely. Yeah, when it came to TrustScout, I mean, for us, it was just so important. We were initially using it for ourselves, just to be able to help out our clients. It was literally just to save time because we were spending I mean hours to go out and get video testimonials because half the time we would need to go and call up somebody and then be able to say, Okay, this is how to set it up. This is how to actually go and record. And then this is how to send the video testimonials to us. And it was not fun because half the time it would get stuck, in the email or the file was too big or they just couldn't even figure out how to send it. So we're like, okay, this isn't really an efficient way to do it. So, we had people like trying to drag and drop it into files and stuff like this, we just kept it just we had no control over any of the situations.

So when we actually designed trust, that was completely for ourselves to be able to help us and systematise the process and one of my friends, actually asked if we could or if we could share the software with them and go out and even use it for themselves and from there, That's actually when it started going into a larger scale situation where we had a lot more people than we were initially expecting. Yes. How long ago was that that you started to trust? We started TrustScout last June. So a little over a year or a little over a year now.

And then just talk us through your journey of like when you started out in business and how you got this and what your aspirations are Beyond that. Yeah, absolutely. So when I first started off, I knew I wanted to get into sales or if I wanted to get into business. I wanted something that I had control over how much I made. I remember this was back when I was young. It was with Pokemon cards. I love Pokemon cards. Once I found out that people desired one card more than other cards and that you could trade one card for two cards or one card for four cards or whatever it may have been, I fell in love with that idea of being able to have something of value in being able to help people in whichever way it was. So I started really trying to do a lot of projects. And when I was probably 15, 16 years old, I was trying to start up, like, food stands. I was trying to start up everything I could possibly try to do. And some days I would make some money and then other projects. I would make absolutely no money, and a lot of the time in a lot of my projects, very early on, they were not profitable. We would have all these ideas. We had all this type of, like, I guess, passions to try to go in and follow. But we didn't know how to go ahead and make any money like we just didn't know what to do. And from there I went, and I just said, “You know what? I think the best way for me to be able to learn how to do something, whether it's online or if it's just in a local area, is to tack onto what somebody's already doing and kind of see what somebody else is doing.” So I ended up working with a person who ran an online company, and I started working with him, and I started seeing the way that he was generating sales and the way that he was being able to bring clients and bring customers.

And from there I was able to tack on two very specific areas that I found that I was good at the inside of his business, and it allowed me to learn. And once I was able to learn those skill sets, then from there I was able to go out, and I was able to help other businesses be able to do the same thing. And I created an agency for myself, and but I wouldn't have been able to do that unless I actually was a. But unless I actually worked with that person from that initial stage.

I think a lot of people will relate to that story of having worked in an agency, having seen the good and the bad of running that agency and then deciding that they can do it better themselves. In probably as only my story I used to be a million years ago, I was the marketing manager for a software company, and we really struggled to hire a good agency that understood what we did. So I thought at the age of 23-24 I thought, I know I can go and start my own agency And, you know, that naive kind of arrogant youth was stood me in good stead because I don't think I do that now. 

So, how do you juggle running these two businesses? That's always an interesting question to ask people who have got multiple, you know, balls in the air. Yeah, absolutely. It was definitely challenging at first because when you start something, you put everything that you have into it, you know? So when I first was kind of making the switch and working with a scout, what happened is I started focusing all of my attention on that other business, which then, of course, my agency started going down, which was not fun. And it took me a couple of months to start realising like, “Oh, OK, I need to kind of figure out a balance.”

So what we ended up doing is it was actually, I guess, good, because it started to change my perspective of running a business in the first place because you kind of thing that you're supposed to put all your attention on the business. You're supposed to work eight hours a day on the business, at least. Or if you listen to some motivational people out there, they tell you to work 18 hours a day. But what happens is a lot of the time you're just working for the sake of work, you know?

And that right there it was. That's what you start to realise is because you have to start finding time and kind of start figuring out, OK, ‘where is my time best valued in a specific area?’ So what we ended up doing is we kind of said okay, you know what kind of structure? The time where it was like, OK, half a day of work on this project, and then the next day of work, 100% on this one. and I kind of had to think of it as I had to get the maximum of time for the least amount. I agree with you.

I mean, you know, I run this programme the self-running agency, and I wrote my book of the same name for all those reasons is like, you know, we want to grow our businesses, but we don't want to be completely tied into that business, working for a really difficult boss ourselves. So how do we grow it without losing control? But get that flexibility and freedom. And I always talk to people about the concept of working out what their hourly rate is.

It's like what is an hour of their time worth? And if they are doing tasks that are worth less than that, why are they doing them? Why can't they need to delegate them or to make them or do something to stop doing them and focus on tasks that are worth their hourly rate or more? And those are the usually the things that move your agency for. Those are the strategy things that you know, the things that only you can do and what's your sort of future aspirations. You're not grey and, like, I am your young So what's your sort of your translations for your businesses?

For me, I guess the biggest school in the next 4 to 5 years. That type of outlook is to be able to fully automate most of the business processes that are there. I almost kind of want to view myself as the chairman, as opposed to physically going into the business and working on it. So a lot of what I'm even doing now is I'm constantly out looking at okay, “What did somebody just do twice?” You know, somebody on my team. What does somebody just do twice? And how can I systematise that? Actually, even last year, I hired somebody to come in and basically just follow me around, you know, and be able to document everything that I was doing. And you start to realise, “How much of that stuff is something that you don't even remotely have to do?” You kind of thing that you have to do, But then you realise if you can just document processes, then you can have somebody else go out and do it for $5 an hour. And then you're able to focus on the money, how going out and getting new clients, like focusing on the things that actually increase that hourly net worth that you have. That would be my biggest thing is like trying to focus on getting all the systems up all the processes, and then being able to have both businesses running on autopilot. 

Such good advice. Personally, I've failed quite a few times in the last few years of hiring, a really good via and hiring social media person, a content person. And this time around, I got it right, because I did exactly what you just said. I spent. It was a very tedious process. But I spent a good few days documenting all of my standard operating procedures on how to do everything that I have been doing. And then when I hired the new team that I have now, they can follow the SOPS and you know, they can deliver it to the sort of level that I would hope with my minimum about my input.

Any other tips that you could share about running your business? I'm putting you on the spot here a bit, but any tips on running your business that you can share with anybody else, any things that you've seen good or bad? You know, when you've been running your business or when you've seen other people running. Absolutely, I would say this was probably one of the better pieces of advice that somebody told me, and it was that there are really only two things in your business that you can never focus on and its traffic or its sales.

Those are really the only two things that happen in your business. And I asked I said, like, “Why is that?” You know, and if you start thinking about it, if you're doing the delivery, if you personally are going out and doing the delivery, and then what ends up happening is you're basically just working a job at that point because you're just doing the service that somebody else who actually has benefits, who gets dental, you know, like that they could be paying you if you were just working like for them in the company.

So if you're doing the delivery, especially as an agency owner, you really have to check yourself and say, “OK, wait a minute. How can I step out of the delivery 100% and only focus on traffic and sales?” Because those are the two things that will actually put money in your pocket? 

Yeah, such good advice. I've not heard it like that before. I think my experience with a lot of entrepreneurial business owners is that they have to change their mindset as well because they do believe that clients, want them. And if I don't work on the client account, the client will haters and levers. And of course, that's not true. And they get stuck on what I call the client service hamster Wheel of Doom. So they're just constantly servicing clients. They've got no time to focus on traffic or sales. They've got no time to focus on the future direction of their agency. And there's a big iceberg up ahead that they aren't seeing because they're so entrenched in client delivery. So sometimes you've got to change your mindset, first of all, to think no, there are other people that can deliver as well or better than me, and I need to hire those people, and I need to train my clients so that they don't want to expect me on the account because I need to do the thing only I can do. And the thing that a lot of business owners do very well is traffic or sales. 

It's also interesting that I see some agencies trying to outsource that problem. So trying to outsource that, like hiring a new business agency or hiring a business development manager and almost nine times out of 10 that fails because sometimes people say it's a difficult problem, but they don't realise that they're the best person to solve it.

100% So if people wanted to find out more about you, Adam and more about TrustScout, where would they go? Yeah, they can go to trustscout.io. And then they'll be able to, really see how you can collect video testimonials for your agency or if you want even doing it for your clients as well. We can walk you through all that. 

Fantastic, Okay, so I'll put a link to that in the show notes. And if people wanted to reach you directly, should they don't have a LinkedIn or via the website or your email? Yeah, You can reach me on LinkedIn. Definitely. Okay, if you just reach out and malaria, we'll put you in conjunction as well. 

So, as you know, the one question I ask all my guests before I let them go is if you could go back in time and give your younger self just starting out in business, one piece of advice. What would it be? Yeah, what I would definitely say is try fast and fail fast for me. That that has become one of the I guess main building blocks of my business is because if I go ahead and when I first started off in business, I would work on projects for six months at a time or nine months, even if it wasn't profitable. Thinking that like, oh, it takes so much effort to go out and start a business that it makes sense to kind of work for free for six months or 12 months. The reality behind it is that if you can just get it in front of enough people, and then see what the conversion rates are and how much you're making from it, in 24 hours, you're gonna be way better off because you're going to have all those misses, and then you'll be able to find those couple of winners. That will allow you to scale at that kind of exponential rate. 

Yeah, great advice. Of course, the danger of sitting there working on something for six months that you think your market wants is that you might find out that no one is actually interested in. I always talk about companies that sell vitamin pills instead of painkillers. You know, a customer in pain and they want their pain solving. And what they want is a painkiller bit of where if we are producing a product that's a vitamin pill that we know would be really good for our clients. But they've got a splitting headache. They don't want the vitamin pills. So, you know, I really like that. I haven't heard that term Try fast, fail fast. But that is a good piece of advice. 

And as I always say too, I guess we haven't had anybody say anything like that before. So that is where nearly 100 episodes now, and with no one's ever said that before. So I'm and one day I may be for Episode 100 I'm going to go back and collect all of the advice and put them into one episode. I think that would be a really good one. 

Adam, I really appreciate your time, especially since it's really early in the morning for you in the U.S. But I really appreciate your time and sharing your experience and your wisdom with our listeners. And thanks so much for joining me today. Absolutely. Thank you so much. It was awesome being on.

The Ultimate Guide to Great Customer Retention: What All Agencies Need To Know To Build Better Client Relationships, Reduce Customer Churn and Increase Profitability

Customer Retention

Introduction

No matter how big or small you are, every agency faces a number of consistent challenges. One that keeps many agency owners awake at night is client retention. 

I know this is a significant problem because it’s something my coaching clients ask me about over and over again. And, much like value pricing and selling or choosing a well-defined niche, this is a subject you can gain mastery over by implementing the right strategies.

Of course, learning what these strategies are is easier said than done. While there is much written about client retention, finding actionable information on this topic is quite difficult – but I aim to change that with this blog.

Contrary to popular opinion, there’s a lot more to keeping customers happy for the long haul than bending over backwards to meet their every need, or forgetting how to set boundaries (that will put you on the fast track to unprofitable work, overservicing and burnout). 

These behaviours aren’t sustainable – you can’t build a business around them. You need to take a strategic approach to satisfying your clients today, tomorrow, six months and a year from now. 

That’s what we’re going to cover in this article – everything you need to know about the process of keeping clients happy with your agency (without overextending yourself) resulting in long-term relationships and revenue growth.

Specifically, we’re going to talk about: 

  • The prerequisites to great customer retention (without these, you have no foundation to build your systems on)
  • The four core competencies of client retention
  • A simple framework for identifying your client retention weak points
  • What we can learn about keeping customers happy from businesses that don’t
  • Why implementing client retention strategies is far more sustainable than just focusing on acquisition 
  • How to set realistic expectations from the outset (massively important to ensuring client satisfaction)
  • How and when to use overservicing to your advantage
  • An easy rule of thumb for figuring out if your churn rate is too high
  • Six quick tips for boosting customer loyalty and reducing churn that you can put into practice right away 
  • My personal favourite resources for simplifying the process of client retention

If you’re interested in getting a handle on this crucial topic, then read on for more info!

We’re going to cover a LOT of ground in this article so in the spirit of TL:DR, you can get instant access to a summary and top takeaways in a free One-Page Action Plan. Just click the image below. 

customer retention

Prerequisites: The Unspoken Fundamentals of Great Client Retention

Let’s get down to business. First things first: what do we take for granted when we’re talking about customer retention?

Well, we assume that if you’re in a position where you’re confidently pitching your services to clients, then you’re capable of delivering on your promises to them i.e. you know what you’re doing on the technical side of things. 

Beyond this, the key skills you need to keep clients satisfied with your service are: 

  • Honest, frequent, timely communication
  • Being able to say no
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Consistently delivering a great experience (without overservicing)

That’s it. If you master these four core competencies, then you’ll be well poised to boost your retention rates, increase profitability, reduce churn, and build a more stress-free business experience for you and your employees. 

Let’s dig a little deeper into these four skills before moving on with the rest of the article. 

The 4 Core Competencies of Great Client Retention

client retention

Skill #1: Communication

Hands-down, the most fundamental skill you have to master to ensure great client retention is being able to communicate well. 

Sometimes, you’ll:

  • Miss deadlines 
  • Fail to meet the client’s expectations 
  • Recommend a change in direction
  • Need to ask for more money or request more information to proceed 

Addressing these issues in a timely manner (and via the appropriate channels) is key. You don’t want to bury your head in the sand and hope that they go away of their own accord… because they won’t! 

Additionally, there’s no surer way to frustrate clients than by failing to keep them up to date with how your work for them is progressing. Creating solid plans for the work you’re carrying out is all well and good, but if you don’t keep your clients in the loop (communicating often, and ensuring they understand what’s going on), it’s all for nothing. 

Keeping them up to speed doesn’t have to be difficult. You can do something as simple as checking in via regularly scheduled emails or go more complex with a project management system such as Asana or AgencyHub.

Regardless of what you choose to do, remember this: communicating with your clients appropriately (i.e. via their preferred medium) and in a timely fashion is key. Failing to do this is a surefire way of losing a client.

Skill #2: Being Able to Say No

Mantras like “the customer is always right” have programmed us (as service providers) to be overly accommodating to client requests. If we think there’s a chance we can help them with something, we agree to it. We’re eager to please because we think this is a good way to keep a client. 

Thankfully, there’s more to client retention than simply becoming a ‘yes man’. If that was all it took to keep clients happy, businesses would be trapped in a race to the bottom, each competing to deliver as much extra work to their customers as they could possibly manage without charging for it!

Being able to say no when a client is asking for something entirely new or outside the agreed scope-of-work is key to avoiding difficult situations (or saying “YES but we need to drop something else”). Additionally, you have to be able to resist when what they’re asking for is not going to help them achieve their objectives. By acting in this consultative way you’ll help to position yourself as a trusted partner (rather than just a supplier).  

Train your staff in setting boundaries and sticking to the original scope of their projects. Doing this will ensure you avoid getting caught in the Overservicing Trap (discussed in more detail below). 

Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with saying yes to additional requests – just ensure your staff know to change the scope-of-work or fees being charged, as needed.  

Skill #3: Meeting Deadlines

This is a simple skill, but one that many agencies struggle with from time to time. 

Being able to deliver work when you said you’d deliver it is a small thing that goes a long way towards keeping clients satisfied with your service. 

There’s a principle in software development known as the “ninety-ninety rule”. It goes something like this: 

“The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time.”

This is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but the point remains: things often take longer to complete than you think they will. 

When you’re agreeing to deadlines with clients, be sure to allow yourself some wiggle room. Inevitably, some other client could walk through the door with a crisis, a key member of staff could need time off, or things could just get busy. 

And when you can’t meet those deadlines? Refer back to skill #1 and communicate. Odds are your clients are reasonable people, just like you. 

Skill #4: Delivering a Great Experience (Without Overservicing)

Many agencies have fallen for the age-old Overservicing Trap. They think that keeping customers happy is all about going the extra mile and giving them more than they paid for. 

Overservicing is a major issue for many agencies, for a few different reasons. 

Firstly, it conditions clients to receive more than they’re paying for any time you work with them. Going the extra mile quickly becomes the norm, and you end up going even further next time to satisfy your clients (or else maintaining your standard level of overservicing to keep them feeling neutral towards your business). 

Secondly, it creates stress in the agency and lower profits – all because of the belief that “if we don’t say YES then the client will leave us” – which is NOT TRUE!

Thirdly, it devalues the work you do as an agency. If clients can get some of your additional services for free (or get them for less than they should cost), they will never value this work (think about it – anything for free is rarely really valued).

Being able to deliver a great client experience without overservicing is an art. The other three skills listed here help (as do the strategies we’ll detail later on in this piece), so be sure to reread this section and figure out which areas your agency is falling down in. 

A Simple Framework For Identifying Client Retention Weak Points

The four skills listed in the previous section are critical to successfully retaining your ideal clients – but how do you know which ones to focus on developing first?

To make this information easier to use, I’ve created a straightforward grading system you can use to score your performance in each of these areas. 

Consider each of the competencies we’ve just talked about and grade your mastery over them on a scale of 1-5 (1 = your skill is non-existent in this area, 5 = you have absolutely zero problems in this area).

  • A score of 1-2 in any area is a major red flag – be sure to give this skill immediate attention. 
  • A score of 3 indicates decent performance but allows for plenty of room to improve. 
  • A score of 4 or 5 is great – you have little to no problems with that skill. 

Over time, your goal should be to improve upon your weak points, maintain your strengths, and fully develop the skills you need to master client retention. 

Now that we’ve finished talking about the core competencies you need to satisfy clients effectively, let’s see what we can learn about customer retention from companies who don’t care about it at all. 

What We Can Learn About Keeping Customers Happy From Companies That… Don’t

I often like to frame these articles with a case study or story to explore the topic, but this time around, I want to talk about a particular industry (not just one company) that is going about this all wrong

I’m pretty confident that you’ll agree since we’re probably both frustrated customers of this industry. And that industry is? 

The mobile phone market.   

Here are some quick stats for you to consider. According to The WDS Mobile Loyalty Audit

  • Customer churn in the mobile phone market is sky-high at a staggering 40%
  • Only 16% of polled consumers said they felt rewarded for their loyalty 
  • 54% of consumers reported that they didn’t feel valued by their provider 

In today’s competitive mobile phone marketplace, service providers can’t afford not to take care of their clients. New UK legislation has made the process of quitting your current provider as simple as sending a text message!

They’re not the only offenders, of course – broadband providers are often just as bad. How often have you seen an ad that promised a great deal, only to see in the fine print it was for “new customers only”?

client retention

These ads are designed to attract new customers, but offer nothing to loyal current customers… a common theme of these businesses. 

Why do they continue to do this?

The sector is highly commoditised.  Every provider offers a broadly similar product. Without anything else to compete on, they compete based on price – which is a race to the bottom. 

Consider what would happen to your agency if you behaved like your services were a commodity. You’d probably do the following: 

  • View acquiring customers as being far more important than retaining them
  • Stop focusing on the quality of delivery
  • Set rates that are in line/cheaper than your competitors (and not in line with the value you create)

These three mistakes are more bearable in an industry where consumers almost expect these behaviours (as is the case with mobile phone providers). But for an agency like yours?

Focusing on acquisition above retention, forgetting about being strategic and failing to deliver a high-quality service will spike your customer churn rates… 

And pricing with too much regard to your competitors will limit your profits and see you caught in a race to the bottom. Read my blog on pricing to get some help here.

With all this talk of acquisition vs. retention, you might be wondering: which one should you be spending your time on? 

Acquisition vs. Retention: How To Balance Both In Your Agency

client retentionWhen it comes to your focus on acquisition vs. retention, it’s not a case of “either or” – it’s more a case of figuring out the best strategies for attracting your ideal clients, then holding onto them. 

Client retention problems often stem from winning the wrong type of client in the first place. The wrong client is much more difficult to satisfy, creates a challenging relationship and retaining them is exhausting and challenging for even the best agencies. 

Research from the Harvard Business Review has indicated that increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profitability 25%-95%. 

Other studies have shown that it costs 5-25 times as much to win a new client as it would to keep an existing one. That’s a staggering statistic (one that you should take to heart if you’re spending a lot of money on outbound marketing). 

According to smile.io, boosting retention rates increases profitability for a few different reasons: 

  1. It’s more expensive to go out and win a new client than it is to simply keep an existing one (which is common sense)
  2. The longer you work with a client, the more money they’ll spend with your business (and the more chances you’ll have to upsell them to greater levels of service). Additionally, the longer you’re together, the more trusting your relationship becomes. This means they’ll value your advice more, and view you as a partner – not just a supplier
  3. Satisfied customers that stay with you for the long-term are more likely to refer other prospects to you. Word-of-mouth marketing is free, and these prospects are typically much easier to close (as they’re warmed up ahead of time)

Getting a handle on client acquisition is a separate topic – one that we’ll cover in more detail another month. For now, just remember that the key to getting your relationship off on the right foot is to find the ideal type of customer and sell based on value, then measure your delivered work against that value.  

Great Client Retention Starts With Setting Realistic Expectations From The Outset

Keeping clients satisfied is a game of expectations. And the single biggest chance you have to set a good tone for your relationship with a prospect is before you start working with them

The four core competencies we discussed previously lend themselves well to set the stage for a positive, productive relationship with clients. Honest communication helps – as does the ability to say no, being able to meet deadlines and satisfying without overservicing. 

When you commence working with a client, everything that you agree to deliver as part of your service to them can be considered a “standard” (i.e. part of your arrangement), and anything outside of this can be considered an “extra” (beyond the scope of your current deal).  

The terms of your work together are set out in a scope of work agreement. You need to have this clearly defined before starting out on a new project. Without this, you could be left trying to deliver on the client’s vague vision, wondering if the price you initially quoted them is going to cover the ever-increasing demands they’re placing upon you. 

With a scope of work in place, you’ll be able to look back on it and figure out if what the client is asking for is a standard (i.e. already part of your agreement), or if it’s an extra (it’s beyond the scope of the current agreement). 

It’s important that you and your team understand that you shouldn’t feel obliged to deliver extras for free. Doing so will condition clients to expect the same in the future. Before you know it, those extras have become implicit standards. And if you suddenly decide to skip out on these extras one month, what’s the likely result?

Client dissatisfaction, as their expectations have not been met. Going the extra mile is all well and good, but when that becomes the norm, it ceases to be extra… and is soon seen as par for the course. 

A clear upfront agreement, laying out what’s part of a monthly retainer or project (and what isn’t) is key.  Your agreement should also contain details as to how any ‘extras’ will be billed. The most common approach would simply be charged a flat rate per hour or per additional deliverable completed. 

Beyond the work itself, you should also consider expectations/service levels around deadlines and response times. Once again, this is an area that junior staff often struggle with (so we must explicitly train them). The impulse to agree to a client request without thinking or to respond instantly to their emails/instant messages/phone calls is one that needs to be trained out of them. 

If a client’s fee level means that you respond within 3 hours yet they are conditioned to expect a response within the hour – because the team always responds immediately (who has ever thought “oh I might as well answer this email now since I can”), they’ll be disappointed when you take three hours… even though that is what they are paying for! 

Expectations are everything. It’s important that your staff do everything they can to ensure client expectations remain reasonable. Sometimes, that’s going to mean letting client calls go to voicemail, or allowing emails and IM’s to sit unanswered for a while. Staff may be eager to jump in and respond right away, but make sure that enthusiasm is tempered with understanding: expectations matter, so they need to be managed correctly (more on time management and productivity in a future blog).

Strategic Overservicing – A Useful Tool In Your Arsenal

I don’t want to imply that you should never overdeliver. Occasionally doing a little bit more for free (if it’s valuable to the client) can be a good strategy to boost long-term retention, or to help set the scene for a later upsell to a new level of service. 

The key here is to ensure that they understand they’re getting something for free and that they’re not under the impression that it’s going to be a standard from that point on. 

Once again, clear communication is key. 

An example of how you could deliver an extra without being put on the hook for delivery in the future:  “This month, at no extra cost to you, we’ve produced x report/deliverable. This would typically cost in the region of ___, but as we feel your business will benefit from it (given that ____), it’s yours for no extra cost. 

If you’d like to discuss adding x to your monthly service plan, just let me know and we’ll set up a time to talk about it.”  

The above is just an example – tailor it to fit your business, but remember the spirit of it: extras are great, but doing more work for no additional payment is not. 

On a month-to-month basis, I typically tell my coaching clients it’s okay to overservice by about 5-10% (as you can probably make that up in a quieter month anyway). Going much over this tends to put you in a bad position moving forward and can create all sorts of capacity issues in your agency, so I don’t recommend it.  

Benchmarking Your Churn Rate: An Easy Rule of Thumb to Figure Out if Yours is Too High

Customer churn rate is an easy metric to measure for your agency – and it’s one that has a big impact on your bottom line. Decreasing customer churn by even 1% can have a significant influence on your agency’s profitability, so it’s worth talking about. 

Now, it goes without saying that a certain amount of customer churn is inevitable. Anything can happen: a change in personnel at the client, you might fail to deliver a satisfying experience, or their objectives might change – making your service obsolete. Whatever the case may be, some customers will always leave your agency over the course of a year. The question is… how much is too much?

Churn rates vary dramatically from industry to industry. For instance, churn in the mobile market is around 40% (which would be absolutely atrocious for an agency). However, churn rates could be under 1% for a company like Verizon in the US, due to their contract structure. 

In my experience, I think 20% churn is a good goal for agencies to aim for. Depending on your industry, you may be able to get that figure as low as 7%. Maybe 25% is more realistic for your sector. Whatever your starting point, know that every little improvement you make in this area can have a huge impact on your profitability.

6 Tips For Better Client Retention: Boost Loyalty, Increase Profits and Scale Your Agency 

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of great client retention, I’d like to offer you six quick tips you can put to work in your agency right away to help build a loyal, low-churn client base.

Tip #1: Understand Your Client’s Goals

If you want to retain clients for the long-term, then you need to deliver results. And without first understanding what it is they care about and setting appropriate objectives, how can you hope to deliver results they want to see?

When you understand what they hope to achieve for their business, you’ll be able to align that vision with the goals of your campaign. 

This isn’t just something you do at the outset, of course – goals can change over time. The key here is to discuss with the client, revisit periodically and adjust your approach if and when appropriate.

Tip #2: Understand Your Client’s Preferred Method of Communication

Communication was another one of the core competencies discussed earlier. The point of this strategy is to illustrate that you should report back in the manner that clients prefer (within reason). 

  • Some clients will want a detailed monthly report
  • Some will want a brief high-level report
  • Some will want a quick phone catch up 
  • Some will want you to sit down with them and touch base every few months 

And within reason, you should understand and accommodate their preferences. 

Another point here that is really important: most clients don’t care about having you report back on tasks completed (sending a very long list of tasks does not translate into delivering great results). Report with reference to outcomes – talk about how you’re delivering against your goals, and how this feeds into the achievement of their business goals. 

Tip #3: Win The Right Kind of Client

The process of retaining clients starts with attracting the right kind of prospects in the first place. When you have a crystal-clear image of your ideal client (see the resources section below for more info), this gets much easier. 

The best kinds of clients to work with are those that: 

  • Are from your target niche and match your ideal client 
  • Value the work you do
  • View you as a partner, not just a supplier
  • Are easy to communicate with

Working with these kinds of clients is a dream compared to the opposite. The wrong kinds of clients for your business (I’m sure you’ve encountered many in your time!) drain your time, are usually dissatisfied with the results you deliver and are bad for your business growth overall. 

Retaining the ‘right’ clients is easier than retaining the wrong ones. Focus on finding and winning your ideal client type and you’ll reap the benefits of longer customer retention.

Tip #4: Seek Regular Feedback

If you want to keep clients satisfied, you have to regularly reach out and seek feedback on your performance. If there are any issues, don’t bury your head in the sand – confront the problem in a timely manner and work on solving it. 

Seeking feedback doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s easy to tack a question or two onto the end of your regular meetings, soliciting any concerns they may have and create a relationship based on honest and open communications.

Don’t assume everything is okay because they haven’t voiced a concern on their own initiative. Be proactive and seek out issues before they can derail the relationship entirely. 

Tip #5: Handle Staff Changes Carefully

Changing the personnel assigned to a client account can be a tricky situation to navigate. In my experience, I’ve seen agencies making a few mistakes in this area: 

  • Sending in the big guns to pitch the client… then not assigning these people to work on the account once the deal is closed 
  • Not informing a client when a key member of the team moves on 
  • Not introducing their replacement carefully and having them build credibility with the client (ideally before the old client lead leaves)

I generally advise my coaching clients to be upfront when something like this changes. Let the client know in plenty of time when changes are coming, introduce their replacement and ensure that they have plenty of opportunities to show they are capable. Finally, stress that the quality of service they’re receiving won’t change. 

Tip #6: Do Some Account Development Planning

My last tip is to take a strategic approach to account development. Set aside some time in your calendar to carry out regular reviews of your key clients (and of your own business too). 

With regards to your relationship with the client – review your strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how to mitigate the challenges/risks (while maximising your advantages). 

With regards to your clients – review their situation, and identify areas in which you could add more value to their business. This could be an upsell to an additional service, a strategically chosen freebie (to give them a taste of something else you offer), or even just a quick consultation to impart some ideas you have about their strategy moving forward. 

The key takeaway point here is to take the time to focus on developing your key clients. Doing so will allow you to boost retention rates, increase profitability and have an easier time satisfying them… all good outcomes for your business!  See below for my free template you can use for your client development planning.

The Best Resources for Simplifying the Process of Great Client Retention

In this article, we’ve been digging deep into the topic of client retention. 

We’ve covered a lot of ground up to now, so let’s switch gears for a minute. I’d now like to share my favourite resources for maximising your client retention.

Developing crystal-clear customer personas is the first thing you need to do if you want to win your ideal client and boost retention rates. If you intimately understand your customer then you know what “makes them tick” and therefore give yourself the best chance of retaining & growing them. You can download a free copy of the Customer Personas workbook here to help with this process. 

In my 13 years as a business coach, I’ve come across many different client management techniques – and learned which ones work best for real businesses just like yours. If you’re interested in getting your hands on these techniques, you can download a free copy of my Client and Account Management eBook here

I’ve always been a fan of Hubspot’s content. They put out great articles on all aspects of running a high-performance agency, but I particularly enjoyed this one on some different customer retention programs you can put to work in your business right away. 

As mentioned in the last section, periodically stopping and taking a strategic view of your clients is vital to head off any potential issues and looking for upsell opportunities.  So I want to share with you something I normally only give to my paying clients and that is an Account Development Planning template. This will enable you to capture useful data about your clients and help you address any weaknesses whilst maximising opportunities.

You may want to use a CRM system to help you monitor clients and ensure you are not dropping any balls. There are many you can use but I found this list to be both useful and comprehensive.

Finally, I recently published a guest post over on Hubspot on increasing customer retention rates (including details on how to carry out crucial “Strategic Reviews” of your biggest clients). You can read that here if you’re interested. 

Your Action Plan

We’ve covered a lot of information in this article. At this stage, your head is probably spinning!

To help you get started with the process of better client retention, I’ve outlined the very next steps you should take in a handy One-Page Action Plan. 

To get your copy for free, just click the picture below for instant access. 

customer retention

Conclusion

That concludes our in-depth breakdown of client retention. 

I hope that you’ve learned something new here (and please ensure any of your team read the article), as an understanding of this topic is a crucial part of scaling your agency sustainably. Without having good customer retention rates, your agency will suffer from the Revolving Door Problem – clients come and go, leaving you scrambling to close new business just to stay afloat. 

Winning a new client is great… but closing the deal is just the beginning of the journey. 

This is a trap that many agencies fall into. They work hard to win the client, put their best foot forward and then move on in search of the next win, hoping the accounts team do a good job of keeping the client.

To win in the long-term, you need to take a more strategic approach than this. You have to take client retention seriously: it will have a major impact on your bottom line, so it’s worth focusing on.

I hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions, be sure to post them below and I’ll get back to you with my thoughts.

If you would like to learn more about HOW to win more ideal clients & retain them for the long term then sign up for my FREE Sales Pipeline Masterclass (where we cover niching in detail)

Customer retention and customer relationship management

account management

According to the Harvard Business School, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits anything from 25-95%.   Also repeat customers, on average, spend 67% more (Source: Bain & Company)

So it’s pretty evident that keeping clients is important! One of the key ways of achieving this is to provide exceptional client and account management.  I never understood the utilities or mobile phone business model of being good at winning new customers (through great offers and deals) but making next to no effort to keep customers!  This seems crazy to me, especially in super competitive market places.  So what ever type of business you run, don’t follow their lead!

Whatever your strategies are you need to attract new customers AND keep (and grow) existing ones. Having run my own agency and then spent the last 10 years coaching all types of agencies and service based businesses, I know that getting a good level of client and account management, whilst also ensuring you do not massively over service, is the key to developing a stable and growing business. Yet many staff do not know how to effectively manage clients on a day to day basis as well as taking a strategic view of clients to ensure growth and retention.

Some of the key points I make to my clients:

  • Train your staff on how to be a great client manager – don’t assume they naturally will be!
  • Build a great relationship and empathy with your clients via regular communications and frequent face to face meetings (where possible)
  • Make sure you have a clear way of measuring what you do for your client and communicate this with them
  • If they change the goal posts then be willing to discuss the implications/delays rather than just ‘sucking it up’
  • Be clear to your clients when you over-service them, so you can potentially charge them for the additional work
  • Build a partnership relationship rather than a customer/supplier one
  • Create detailed plans (to use both internally and with the client)
  • Spend time away from the client and monthly work, developing your long term strategy for retention and growth of your key accounts

Since this is such a big topic I have distilled my thinking into my top 15 tips and if you would like a copy of this free document, you can download it here.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on 07775 644588 or via the contact page.

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